PEÑÍSCOLA CASTLE-PLACE

 

The Peñíscola Castle-Palace (Castellón, Valencian Community, Spain), also called Castillo del Papa Luna is located on the highest part of the rock that dominates the city, reaching a height of 64 m above sea level. Its perimeter is about 230m and it has an average height of 20m. The knights Templar built this romanesque work on the remains of the old arab fortress between the years 1294 and 1307.

Pedro Martínez de Luna and Pérez de Gotor (who was appointed Pope by the obedience of Avignon under the name of Benedict XIII of Avignon, the so-called Pope Luna) made the castle his papal seat during the long-term dispute over its egitimacy. The tenacious battle that Pope Luna waged against his enemies, led to the popular phrase of ‘sticking to ones guns’ with reference to the refusal of Benedict XIII to renounce his position of pope.

Pope Luna, Benedict XIII of Avignon, one of the most well-know Spanish and at that time controversial figures, moved to Peñíscola in 1411 turning his castle into the palace library and pontifical. The walls and outbuildings of this fortress radiate ideas, feelings and prejudices for an honest and virtuous man of integrity who had the daring to persevere in his conviction as the true Pope of the Catholic Church in an era marked by wars, ambitions, greed and corruption that affected even the highest levels of the Church, whose spiritual power had to capitulate in the face of political and civil power.

The sobriety and solidity of its construction are noteworthy, both in the templar areas and in the strategic and intricate pontifical parts that Benedict XIII would later construct (among which was installed one of the best libraries in the world). But perhaps the castle’s point of greatest architectural interest is the top of the Cuerpo de Guardia dome and the austerity and severe proportions of the Templar Basilica.